The Madison Downtown Rotary Club presented Milele Chikasa Anana with the Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award at their luncheon this afternoon at Downtown Rotary.
Along with this prestigous award, a $2,500 grant is provided to an organization of the recipient’s choice. Anana chose the Goodman Community Center to receive the donation who will work with the Madison Community Foundation to establish a fund in her name for scholarships.
The Honorable Everett Mitchell was the guest speaker at the luncheon and he spoke about Anana in his talk “Standing Up for All Children: Reflections on Ms. Milele’s Call for Justice.”
Within the African-American community, Anana is known as the “Village Mother” for her many volunteer efforts, promoting equal rights, inclusiveness and serving those in need. She worked with the Wisconsin Historical Society to strengthen their black history exhibit and was elected to the Madison School Board in 1974, becoming one of the first African-American elected officials in Wisconsin.
Anana founded UMOJA in 2000 as a volunteer labor of love and has mentored over 100 young people as interns there. She founded Black Restaurant Week, chaired Madison’s Minority Affairs Commission and gives time to the NAACP, Urban League, Black Chamber, Madison Kwanzaa, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She served as Madison’s first African American affirmative action officer, hired by Mayor Paul Soglin to increase people of color and women in city government. She has written children’s books so all can see African-American children and their stories.